Industry needs a politick of approval
With Queensland heading to the polls next weekend, it’s a good time to tell politicians eyeing public office what’s necessary to keep the property sector firing on all cylinders, SOPHIE FOSTER reports
QUEENSLAND property experts agree that political will for reform is key if the state’s property sector is to have any hope of supercharging during the next three years.
With the state election just a week away, industry attention has zeroed in on planning reforms and the raft of red tape, fees and charges facing the property sector.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive Antonia Mercorella (pictured below) took on an old foe, stamp duty, calling on politicians of all stripes to commit to the abolition of the tax.
Now known as transfer duties, Queensland’s charges are some of the lowest in the country, but Ms Mercorella said it still imposed extra costs on property transactions, “discouraging turnover of housing and distorting choices between renting and buying”.
“We’re challenging the state’s lawmakers to ensure real estate reform is at the top of the political agenda throughout 2015,” she said. “The real estate industry is vital to the state’s prosperity and we want to see further reforms introduced in Queensland, including abolition of stamp duty on property transactions, reinstatement of first-home owner grants for existing housing; and allowing first homebuyers to access their superannuation to purchase a property.”
Ms Mercorella said the property sector already made up more than $8 billion of gross state product and employed over 50,000 people.
Housing Industry Association executive director Queensland Warwick Tenby said one initiative that had helped the industry was the $15,000 first-home buyers grant – which currently only applied to new buildings.
He said it would be good for the industry if the government maintained the grants program, even if it didn’t end up extending it to existing housing – something REIQ hoped for.
Queensland still had niggling red-tape issues when it came to property paperwork and charges, Mr Tenby said, including local governments taking on issues that were already covered by other building codes and standards.
“A high priority is getting some State Government commitment to take a hard line with local governments who are increasingly wanting to get involved in planning schemes, adding extra costs in the thousands to very simple housing developments,” he said.
“Property is key to Queensland’s growth over the next three years. Housing is one of the few bright spots on the economic horizon for Queensland and so it’s very important that the government ensures it can let industry get on with it. The industry is a very important employer (here).”
Queenslanders head to the polls next weekend to choose 89 members of the state’s unicameral parliament who serve a three-year term.
Master Builders deputy executive director Paul Bidwell said Queensland had seen improvements but further policy reforms were necessary to keep up growth momentum.
“Changes to workers’ compensation and right-ofentry laws have both helped to improve efficiency and create confidence, while reforms to the building-industry regulator, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, have gone a long way to addressing problems with building disputes and licensing,” he said.
Mr Bidwell supported dropping stamp duty and said building costs needed to be contained.
“We are keen to work with the new government to help shape their priorities for Queensland’s building and construction industry and to build on the reforms that have already been implemented.”
The latest ANZ Property Council March Quarter 2015 survey put the Queensland government’s planning reform performance above all other states, more than double that of New South Wales and Tasmania – the only other states with positive rankings.
ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan said positive property values and construction were critical to Australia’s economic outlook.
Property Council of Australia chief executive Ken Morrison said the industry was emerging as the main driver of economic and jobs growth.
“Smart politicians should take heed. Doing what’s right for this sector might just be the best way for them to get themselves elected,” he said.
Queenslanders go to the polls next weekend at a time when real estate industry experts have called for greate